About ED ED PERFORMANCE & ACCOUNTABILITY
Annual Report to Congress
Of the Office for Civil Rights
Fiscal Year 2006

Downloadable File PDF (6 MB)

A. Complaint Resolutions

Resolved Through Early Complaint Resolution (ECR)

  • A complaint alleged that two American Indian children enrolled at a high school were subjected to racially offensive comments from other students that created a racially hostile environment for them at school. The complaint alleged that the district failed to respond adequately to address the racially hostile environment and that a district teacher also unfairly punished a student based on race. With the help of OCR, the parent and the district entered into an agreement through OCR’s Early Complaint Resolution process. The district agreed to take appropriate steps to ensure that the children’s environment at school would be free from racial hostility, to establish procedures for reporting and investigating complaints of racial harassment promptly, to ensure adherence to its disciplinary policy for violations of its anti-harassment policy, and to expunge the one student’s disciplinary records.
  • A complaint alleged that the district failed to take action when an African-American high school student was subjected to racially offensive comments from other students. With the help of OCR, the parent and the district entered into an agreement through OCR’s Early Complaint Resolution process. The district agreed to promptly address allegations of harassment filed by the student, take disciplinary actions as appropriate, and notify the parent of the outcome of its investigation regarding the harassment allegations. In addition, the district agreed to provide training for administrators and other staff to ensure that the school environment would be free from acts of racial harassment and to reinforce with students the district’s policies and procedures prohibiting, and imposing discipline for, the harassment of students based on race.

Discipline

  • A complaint alleged a school district discriminated against black and Native American high school students by imposing upon them harsher disciplinary sanctions than were given to white students with similar infractions. OCR’s investigation found a pattern of different treatment on the basis of race and national origin in the district’s imposition of disciplinary sanctions. As part of its corrective action agreement, the district agreed to evaluate its discipline policy and procedures; institute a data tracking process that would allow discipline referrals and sanctions to be monitored and analyzed based on race and national origin to ensure non-discriminatory implementation; and train staff involved in making disciplinary referrals and determining disciplinary sanctions.

Segregation

  • OCR resolved a Title VI complaint in which the district did not dispute the allegation that it was segregating elementary school Hispanic students based on national origin. The district acknowledged that the segregation was not justified under the district’s approach to educating students with limited English proficiency (LEP). The district entered into a settlement agreement with OCR in which the district agreed to discontinue classes that isolated LEP Hispanic students, and to develop and implement its LEP program in the least segregated manner that was consistent with achieving the program’s goals.
  • A complaint alleged that a school district discriminated against students on the basis of race by requiring the high school student body vote for queens and members of the homecoming court on the basis of race. OCR’s investigation found that students were given two separate listings: one with black candidates and one with white candidates. The district agreed to voluntarily resolve this complaint by revising its procedures, eliminating the segregatory listings, and deleting any reference to race from the selection process.

Limited English Proficient (LEP) Students

In FY 2006, OCR received 40 complaints involving issues related to students with limited English proficiency (LEP). This was up from 35 complaints received in FY 2005.

  • A complaint alleged that a school district, located in a refugee resettlement city that had become the home to many Somali refugees, failed to provide Somali students who did not speak English with effective instruction in academic content areas and English acquisition. OCR’s investigation found, among other things, instances in which the school district failed to provide the Somali students with effective access to its education program. The district agreed to hire additional bilingual tutors, hire an outreach worker to provide translation and liaison services for parents of the Somali students, and offer Somali students compensatory instruction during the summer months.
Thank you for your thorough investigation and for assisting us in ensuring that the rights of the Somali children ... are upheld.

Letter from the complainant

  • A complaint alleged that a school district discriminated against national-origin minority students who are LEP by excluding them from its gifted and talented program. In response to OCR’s investigative findings, the district agreed to ensure that eligibility criteria for the gifted and talented program did not screen out LEP students because of their limited English. The district also agreed to take steps to make LEP students and their parents aware of the eligibility and program changes made to the gifted and talented program.
Remembering to communicate with parents in languages they understand is now part of our routine.

Letter from school administrator

  • OCR closed the monitoring of a settlement agreement that concerned a school district’s failure to provide parents with limited English proficiency (LEP parents) with information about school-related matters in a language they could understand. The agreement required the district to develop a written plan specifying how the school would provide information about school matters which would be understandable to LEP parents. In its last monitoring progress report, the school’s administrator reported that the district indicated that “LEP parents and students now have equal access to its programs and that the communication process with LEP parents, which is so vitally important in an organization, is much better improved.” The administrator also thanked OCR for its guidance.
The last 10 years of Civil Rights Data Collection6 shows a progressive increase in the total number and percentage of LEP students from 1994 through 2004. In 1994, 6.12 percent of the students (2,612,161 students) in the nation’s public schools were identified as needing LEP services. By 2004, 8.74 percent of the students (4,205,872 students) required LEP services. As of 2004, approximately one of every 11 students was classified as requiring LEP services, and 89.4 percent of them were receiving such services. For 2007, the projected percentage of students needing LEP services is estimated to be 9.53 percent, indicating almost one in 10 students in the nation needs LEP service.

Racial Harassment

Harassment in schools can deny students the right to an education free of discrimination, threaten students’ physical or emotional well-being, influence how well they do in school and make it difficult for students to achieve their career goals. Preventing and remedying harassment in schools is essential to ensuring a safe environment in which students can learn.

  • OCR closed the monitoring of a corrective action agreement that concerned a school district’s failure to promptly address persistent and pervasive racially harassing name-calling of a student. The agreement required the district to conduct training for school staff and students and issue a letter to the harassed student and the student’s parents identifying the steps the district took and would continue to take to address the issue.
  • OCR resolved a complaint alleging that a district failed to respond to a racially hostile environment and disciplined African-American students differently on the basis of their race at a high school. Although OCR found insufficient evidence to support a violation of Title VI, its investigation to determine whether a racially hostile environment existed in the school included interviews with students regarding their experiences. This provided a great deal of information to the district regarding the perceptions and experiences of some of its minority students. The district then independently implemented several initiatives. The director of the district’s vocational school later contacted OCR for technical assistance regarding this issue.

6U.S. Department of Education (2004). “Office for Civil Rights Elementary and Secondary School Survey Projections and Documentation” 1994–2004, Civil Rights Data Collection (previously called OCR’s Elementary and Secondary School Survey, 1968–2003), Washington, D.C.: Author.


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Last Modified: 11/01/2007